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When most people think about air pollution, they think about smog or car emissions. But the air inside your home can be just as dangerous, especially for individuals with asthma and allergies. Pollutants like pet dander, dust mites, mold spores, and chemical odors can worsen symptoms, making it harder to manage your health.
At Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center, we suggest that patients use an air purifier to reduce irritants and improve their home’s air quality. Which air purifier is best for you depends on your budget and which allergens trigger your symptoms. Read on for the best types of air purifiers for your home.
HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) purifiers have a fairly impressive backstory. These filters were developed in the 1940s and first used to protect workers who were enriching uranium for use in the world’s first atomic bomb. Since then, this technology has emerged as the most popular and, arguably, most effective type of household air purifier.
Using a fan, HEPA purifiers pull polluted air toward the device. The air passes through a pleated filter, often made of fiberglass, that traps pollutants. Since this device only captures large particles, it is best for someone whose asthma or allergies are triggered by pollen, pet dander, dust, smog, and smoke. If you are sensitive to mold spores or worried about airborne bacteria, a HEPA purifier is not for you.
Besides whitening your teeth, activated charcoal can also be used to purify the air. Adsorbent purifiers rely on carbon, often in the form of activated charcoal, to attract gaseous pollutants. These unwanted gases chemically bond to the carbon molecules, leaving your home’s air free of potential allergens.
There are many benefits to adsorbent purifiers. Chiefly, these devices are great for homeowners who are worried about odors like cigarette smoke and food smells. These filters also remove volatile organic compounds — gases that are emitted from certain chemicals like paints and cleaners. Since adsorbent purifiers don’t filter out large particles like pollen and pet dander, they are often used in addition to another purifier type.
Growing up, did your mom always nag you to wear sunscreen? If so, she understood the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) light. UV rays from the sun can damage the DNA in your skin cells, increasing your chances of developing skin cancer. UV purifiers harness this power to kill airborne microbes.
Similar to HEPA purifiers, UV purifiers use a fan to pull polluted air toward the device. The air is then exposed to a UV lamp which, through a process called ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, kills bacteria, fungi, and viruses like SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Since UV purifiers inactivate airborne microorganisms, they are great for allergy sufferers whose symptoms are triggered by mold spores.
However, UV purifiers are problematic for some individuals. For one, these devices don’t filter out large allergens like pollen and dust. But more significantly, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation creates a byproduct called ozone. Ozone is a gas that can be very irritating to the lungs and airways, so much so that it has been proven to trigger asthma attacks.
You can think of electrostatic air purifiers, or electrostatic cleaners, as big dust magnets. When air passes through the device, particles like dander and pollen are given a negative electrical charge. These particles are then pulled toward positively-charged plates. This, in return, purifies the air.
Many homeowners prefer electrostatic air purifiers because they don’t require filters. Instead, the plates must be cleaned weekly or bi-weekly, depending on your home. Since electrostatic air purifiers filter large allergens, they are considered an effective solution for allergy sufferers. However, similar to UV air purifiers, this technology generates ozone, which can be an irritant for asthma sufferers.
It is also important to note that electrostatic air purifiers must be incorporated into the HVAC system of a home. They aren’t sold as standalone units. If you are interested in installing an electrostatic air purifier, we suggest contacting an HVAC expert.
Unlike the other technologies discussed so far, ionizing air purifiers don’t exactly filter out allergens. Instead, these devices work by producing negative ions that attach themselves to particles like dander and mold spores. Since the pollutants are heavier, they cling to surfaces around your home rather than float through the air.
Homeowners prefer ionizing air purifiers because they are filterless and also quieter than HEPA air purifiers. However, like electrostatic air purifiers, these devices generate ozone that could worsen asthma symptoms.
Though purchasing an air purifier is a great step toward reducing your asthma and allergy symptoms, it shouldn’t be the only step you take. If you are struggling to manage your health, schedule a consultation with Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center. With nearly 20 board-certified allergists and 15 offices in the Charlotte area, our practice is sure to provide you with the care you deserve.
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